Huckabee Continues Surge In Iowa

(See here) where Newsweek reports that Mike Huckabee has continued his surge in Iowa and now holds a two-to-one lead over Romney.

As I have stated previously, I would find it extremely difficult to vote for Huckabee because he is in favor of the "Fair Tax". The "Fair Tax" would increase taxes on a "average American family" (married with two kids, $43,000 in income) by over $2,000 even if this average family only takes the standard deduction and does not itemize (which they might be doing if they were purchasing a home instead of renting). The Fair Tax is supposed to be revenue neutral, and it would use the increased tax receipts to fund a tax cut for the wealthiest citizens of our nation. (Disclosure: My own taxes would go up even substantially more because I do itemize and because I am self employed with much of my income shielded from payroll taxes through formation of an S-Corp.)

However what many of his opponents point to in opposing him is his record for raising taxes while serving as Governor of Arkansas. One of the taxes raised was fuel taxes for highway maintenance. Now I am a truck driver who regularly has traveled the highways of Arkansas so I believe I can shed some light on this issue. I am self-employed and I have to pay the increased fuel tax.

Prior to Huckabee (and the Arkansas legislature) raising the fuel tax, Arkansas was was gaining a little notoriety as having the worst highways in the nation. This was not just my own personal opinion, this was the majority viewpoint of truck drivers who have the experience to compare road conditions in the various states. Arkansas had not always worn this dubious honor, however other states that might have given them competition in the past had improved maintenance to where Arkansas was by then the hands down winner of the distinction. Things had gotten so bad on Arkansas Interstates that it had become almost a torture to travel through Arkansas on the crumbling highways.

So what was the result of the tax increase? Well, in Mr Huckabee's opinion, his state:
...went from having the worst to the best roads.

Now that is a little bit of a stretch. Ask truckers which state has the best highways in the nation and it is going to be extremely unusual for you to find one who claims Arkansas leads the nation. However things have improved considerably. Some work is still left to be done, however things are improved and improving.

Another point of consideration is whether the level to which Arkansas increased fuel taxes is justified. Here we find a mixed bag of results when Arkansas is compared to neighboring states, with Arkansas probably falling into the bottom half of "bang for the buck". When the comparison is broadened to nationally, the increased level is not totally unreasonable, even when things like the topography of the states and the need for snow removal are factored in. Arkansas might even squeak into the top half of the pack.

Arkansas really needed to do something about the condition of her highways. One method of increasing highway maintenance revenue which was considered was to make Interstate 40 a toll road. It is my opinion that tollways are not the way to go, with an increase in fuel taxes being the fairest way to raise additional revenue.

I will note that it has been reported that, in a referendum, 80% of Arkansas voters approved of the fuel tax increase. It is my opinion that Arkansa's citizens, like the majority truck drivers, realized something needed to be done.

So those of you who want to scream about Mr Huckabee raising fuel taxes and who do not live in the state need to shut the heck up. Arkansas's citizens wanted the tax increase and even the majority of out-of-state truck drivers are willing to pay the increased tax level to fund the improvements that ARE being made.

But back to the "Fair Tax" issue. Mike Huckabee still will not get my vote due to his support of the proposal.


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